Since I began participating in small group faith-sharing, nearly all of them were lectionary-based (i.e., each meeting revolved around the Sunday readings). It was, by far, the easiest type of meeting to prepare for because you had a given framework (the Sunday readings) and there was an abundance of lectionary-based resources, even back then. And while it was not fully articulated at the time, there was an underlying philosophy that our ministry’s main focus was to help prepare our members (many of whom were Catholics just beginning to dive into Scripture, others who were liturgical ministers) celebrate the Eucharist in a meaningful way.
Now, I was involved in leading these meetings for at least six years, give or take, and for the record — I love being Catholic. I love that we celebrate liturgical seasons, the rituals of the Mass and the comfort in knowing that I am praying the same prayer, hearing the same readings that someone across the globe is praying. But as much as I love the rhythm of hearing the same readings every three years (some, every year), there is a fine line between something being rhythmic versus repetitive; ritual vs. rote. And if someone is never challenged or taught to recognize that Scripture can hit us in different ways at different points in our lives, is never shown that the Word of God is living and relevant to our everyday lives, then it’s easy to understand why so many people never bother to break open Scripture and allow it to permeate their lives. Because taken at face value, hearing the same Scripture readings over and over again can get pretty boring.
So when I came across this chapter from Rebuilt on message (i.e., homily) preparation and writing messages according to a common theme (i.e., creating a series), I thought that this method of organizing messages into series would be just as effective when creating a curriculum for a lectionary-based small group — AND it would address the tendencies for many lectionary-based small groups to fall into ruts. By using the Sunday readings as a jumping off point, several themes could be covered in a given liturgical year, and they would always be chosen according to the needs of the community. And, more importantly, you wouldn’t be covering the same themes every year because, presumably, readings from one year may be saying something different to your group the following year.
Need some inspiration to get started? Click here to check out a list of some suggested themes for 2015, all based on the readings for Year B.